Do you still need convincing on why you should boost a hunter to 90? Go check out my 10 reasons why from last week. So you've got a fresh level 90 hunter in front of you -- what now? What are all these abilities? How do pets work? We've got answers for all that. Without the benefit of having abilities and mechanics slowly introduced while leveling, you might be a little confused when you first log in. Don't fret, you'll be turning monsters into pin cushions and taming an army of pets in no time.
You can check out my previous getting started with hunters article for help in choosing a race and specialization for your hunter. Once you're past that step, we can dive into the meaty bits. We'll start with the absolute basics. What to do the moment you log in with a fresh 90 hunter. First, I want you to take a peek in your spellbook. Don't panic, we'll sort out what's important here.
What am I supposed to do with 5 pages of buttons?
Hunters have a lot of buttons, but I expect that to be remedied in Warlords. For now, I figured the best way to sort through all of these is to break them down into 3 categories so you know what to focus on.
Core DPS abilities
These should be featured prominently on your main action bar where you can always see their cooldowns. You'll be using these a lot.
- Serpent Sting (your main DoT)
- Signature Shot (BM: Kill Command, SV: Explosive Shot, MM: Chimera Shot)
- Arcane Shot (your focus dump)
- Multi-Shot (AoE focus dump)
- Cobra Shot or Steady Shot (your focus generator)
- Unique spec ability (BM: Focus Fire, SV: Black Arrow, MM: Aimed Shot)
- Stampede (DPS cooldown)
- Rapid Fire (DPS cooldown)
- Bestial Wrath (BM only cooldown)
- Level 60 talent if applicable (Dire Beast or Fervor)
- Level 75 talent if applicable (A Murder of Crows or Lynx Rush)
- Level 90 talent (Glaive Toss, Barrage, or Powershot)
- Kill Shot
These are non-DPS abilities which you'll want on your bars.
- Feign Death: Use it. Embrace it. Love it. Stop paying repair bills.
- Disengage: Use it to traverse your environment in creative ways, and to get out of fire in a jiffy.
- Deterrence: Your "oh crap!" button. Blocks almost all incoming damage, and mitigates the rest. Has 2 charges.
- Concussive Shot: Hunters are kiting specialists, and this is our main tool for the job.
- Traps: Slow, freeze, burn, and poison your enemies. Be sure to toggle on the Trap Launcher.
- Counter Shot: Used to interrupt spell casting (for marksmanship this is a 3 second blanket silence).
- Scatter Shot: So awesome that this column was named after it.
- Camouflage: Reduces your aggro radius and makes you untargetable by ranged attacks. Can be glyphed for full stealth.
- Aspect of the Hawk: Keep this toggled at all times. It's literally a 20%+ boost in DPS.
- Aspect of the Pack: Don't use this in random groups unless you want to get yelled at.
- Mend Pet: A potent pet healing spell. Very strong when glyphed.
- Call Pet: When you click this one, it will slide out to show your 5 active pets which you can summon from. You change these active pets at a stable master.
- Revive Pet: For when Fluffy falls down.
- Dismiss Pet: Use this when switching pets or before jumping off a ledge in an instance (pets do not always jump with you).
- Tame Beast: For filling up your 55 stable slots.
- Misdirection: Transfer threat to the tank or your pet.
- Growl (pet): Turn this off in dungeons and raids. Make sure it's on your pet bar so you can see its status at all times.
So it turns out these are still kind of important, but in the effort to ease you into the class I wanted to tell you which buttons qualify as highly situational. It's OK to tuck these in the corner or even leave some of them in your spellbook.
- Master's Call: Mostly a PvP ability.
- Distracting Shot: A ranged taunt. Can be glyphed to taunt to your pet instead.
- Widow Venom: Reduces healing on the target.
- Flare: Reveals stealthed or invisible enemies in the selected area.
- Scare Beast: Fears any beast (works on feral druids).
- Tranquilizing Shot: Dispels an enrage or magic effect from the target.
- Eagle Eye: Good for spying on the enemy or scouting ahead.
- Beast Lore: Lets you know if a beast is tamable.
- Feed Pet: Purely vestigial. Only exists for role playing reasons I think.
- Hunter's Mark: Many of your DPS abilities apply this automatically, but it's nice for putting on rogues in PvP since it has a 100 yd range.
The art of pew pewing
The core of hunter damage dealing is the priority system. There is no set rotation. You need to adapt as your focus bar fluctuates. These are the main points you want to keep in mind:
- Focus regenerates passively at a slow rate, but you also need to use Cobra Shot or Steady Shot when you do not have enough focus to fire another shot.
- Always have enough focus available for your signature ability when it finishes cooldown (BM: Kill Command, SV: Explosive Shot, MM: Chimera Shot). This requires some planning so you don't overspend focus.
- Don't hold onto that focus too long, as you never want to be focus capped (full focus bar) which is a DPS loss. If you can't use your signature ability or something else that requires focus, this is when you use your focus dump (Arcane Shot).
- The secret to good hunter dps: Always be casting something, even if it's not prioritized perfectly. In order to maximize damage you need to use an ability on every available global cooldown. Outside of raids, such button mashing is not really necessary.
- You can use all your DPS abilities while moving, so take advantage of this. It might take you some time to learn how to multi-task, but it will be worth it.
To get started, simply cast the first thing on the list. If you can't cast it due to it being on cooldown, or short of focus, then move to the next item. Keep drilling down until you can use one. Once you cast something, start again from the top.
- Cast your cooldowns (Bestial Wrath, Rapid Fire, Stampede)
- Fire off any shot procs (instant Aimed Shots or Lock and Load charges)
- Cast signature ability on cooldown
- Cast Kill Shot when available
- Cast Serpent Sting (this is normally only needed at the start of a fight since Cobra Shot or Chimera Shot refreshes it -- do not recast if it's already up)
- Cast Black Arrow (survival only) or Focus Fire (beast mastery only)
- Cast level 100 talent (Glaive Toss or Barrage)
- Cast level 75 talent if applicable (A Murder of Crows or Lynx Rush)
- Cast level 60 talent if applicable (Dire Beast or Fervor)
- Use Arcane Shot to dump excess focus (use Multi-Shot in AoE situations)
- Cast Cobra Shot or Steady Shot to generate focus
Pets, your new best friends
OK, I'm just going to get the blatantly obvious out of the way because this is something new hunters often don't understand: Yes, the pet is supposed to attack you while you are taming it. The only requirement for taming a pet is that its level be identical to yours or lower. Once tamed, it will automatically level up to your level if it's not already. You can use Beast Lore to see if a beast is tamable. If it says that it's exotic, you must be in beast mastery spec to tame it. Hunters can tame a total of 55 pets at one time!
Pets have 3 specs which can be easily changed on the fly (out of combat) in the talent interface.
- Use Ferocity spec in most PvE situations. Your pet will do more damage than the other specs, and you can instantly resurrect with Heart of the Phoenix.
- Use Tenacity spec when you need your pet to do some serious tanking. Your pet will have increased survival at the cost of some damage. Blood of the Rhino + Glyph of Mending + Glyph of Animal Bond + Spirit Bond = absolutely insane pet healing.
- Use Cunning spec for PvP. Cunning pets have PvP-oriented perks like Cornered and Roar of Sacrifice.
If you want the capability of filling in for all raid buffs and debuffs, you will need a pet from each of these categories. At a minimum, I'd recommend having a crit, ranged haste, and mastery pet on hand at all times. Pets in italics are exotic (beast mastery only).
- 5% crit: Wolf, quilen, or devilsaur
- 10% melee/ranged haste: Serpent or hyena
- 3000 mastery: Cat or spirit beast
- 5% spell haste: Sporebat
- Heroism/Bloodlust: Core hound
- AoE armor penetration: Tallstrider
- 10% spell power and 5% crit: Water strider
- 10% stamina: Silithid
- 5% stats: Shale spider
- 4% increased physical damage: Boar, ravager, rhino, or worm
- 5% increased magic damage: Dragonhawk or wind serpent
A boosted level 90 starts out with ilvl 483 greens. This will get you into all of the LFRs outside of Siege of Orgrimmar. If you use Timeless Isle gear tokens and kill all the world bosses you may be able to skip those old raids and dive straight into SoO (which requires ilvl 496) on your first week.
I would use your 3 bonus rolls for the first week on the following: Ordos, any SoO boss with a ranged weapon, and Sha of Pride for Assurance of Consequence. If you do not have a character with the legendary cloak unlocked, then replace the Ordos roll with another opportunity to get a ranged weapon from SoO. The ranged weapon bosses are Protectors of the Endless, Galakras, Malkorok, and Paragons of the Klaxxi.
For more information on patch 5.4 loot, see the previous Scattered Shots article.
Things to do with your brand new hunter
- Tame some pets. Fill out your stable with all of the buffs, and go hunt some rare beasts. Arm yourself with NPCscan and head out into the world. You're a hunter now. So go hunt!
- Go solo some stuff. Hunters are great at it. Old raids for mounts? Level 90 heroics? Transmog? How about some Zandalari Warbringers? Just make sure to glyph and talent yourself for some pet healing.
- Hunter parkour. Master the jump-disengage and jump-shot for extra hunter cred.
- Start working on professions. I highly recommend engineering for a hunter.
- Queue up for some random battlegrounds. Hunters are just awesome in battlegrounds. For some reason, we tend to get ignored in large battles. Sit back at 40 yards, send in your pet, and start raining down arrows on everything. We're also fantastic flag defenders.
- Try out the Glyph of Camouflage for a stealthy hunter experience. Really fun in PvP.
- Go transmog hunting. Hunters can transmog any ranged weapon type into another, and we have some amazing looking weapons. See here for some ideas.
- Build yourself a cool looking Stampede and strike some fear into the hearts of your enemies. Herd of dinosaurs? 5 sporebats to tickle them to death? The possibilities are endless.
Resources for your hunter
What follows is a list of hunter sites and a few selected Scattered Shots articles to help you with your new hunter.
- Zeherah's DPS Analyzer. A web-based hunter DPS simulation tool. For those of you who are into the whole theorycrafting thing.
- Petopia. I can't mention this site enough. Looking for a pet? Start here.
- Eyes of the Beast: My personal hunter blog. Even more hunter goodness.
- Scattered Shots: Hunter etiquette. The best practices for being a good hunter.
- Scattered Shots: Macro your hunter. Make your hunter easier to play with these macros.
- Scattered Shots: Helpful hunter addons. Addons best suited to hunters.
- Scattered Shots: Why every hunter needs a tallstrider. Some info on a few lesser known pet buffs, and why you should consider having a full stable.
- Scattered Shots: Hunter taming challenges. A list of all of the spirit beasts and other challenge tames.
- Scattered Shots: Hunter loot in patch 5.4. Wondering how to gear up for raiding at level 90? Start here.
- Scattered Shots raiding tips for Siege of Orgrimmar, part 1 and part 2. Little tips and tricks for each boss in SoO.
- Scattered Shots: Hunters at BlizzCon 2013. Learn about the level 100 talents and a few other bits of information gleamed from BlizzCon.
Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. From raiding tips and hunter addons to learning the DPS value of skill, we've got you covered. If you're stuck in one of the ten support classes, why not move up to the big league and play a hunter